‘Rick and Morty’ season five episode nine recap: a long-awaited realisation

**Spoilers for 'Forgetting Sarick Mortshall' below**

We begin with Morty – kind, pure of heart, ever idealistic Morty – traveling from dimension to dimension, cleaning up the mess made by Rick on recent adventures. Morty returns to the Smith garage and realises that Rick has inked a notch on a container of portal fluid. Keen to avoid his grandfather’s wrath, Morty replenishes the jar with Mountain Dew. It looks the same… right? But then Morty accidentally spills portal fluid on his palm, connecting him with a mysterious man named Nick, who claims to have a portal on his thigh.

Enter Rick – mean, abusive, ever narcissistic Rick – who, caring little that his grandson now has a gaping portal on his palm, berates Morty for using the portal gun without his permission. He pulls down a wheel split into quadrants, each containing potential replacements for Morty as a partner. Rick spins it, with the wheel landing on “two crows”. He captures two crows and trains them, gloating about Morty’s inconsequence to him. Via palm portal, Morty connects with Nick, who resides in a psychiatric hospital (and an offensive, unhelpful depiction of one at that).

It transpires that Nick is institutionalised after meeting Rick and subsequently being fired out of a cannon. The experience has broken him.

Morty helps Nick break out of the institution, while finding common ground in their abuse at the hands of Rick. They christen themselves “The Portal Boys”. Meanwhile, Rick has fallen out with the two crows, enraging a race of humanoid crows as a result. What follows is confusing, but seemingly leads to an empathetic awakening for Rick. Meanwhile, Morty and Nick have fallen out. Nick’s a bit of a dick actually, he lied about his prior encounter with Rick. The two scuffle next to a train track. Realising that the only way to disconnect himself from Nick is to sever the portal connection, Morty allows a passing train to amputate his hand.

Rick and Morty reconcile outside the Smith garage, though their days adventuring forever are seemingly now through. Rick finally admits that their relationship is abusive. Morty is devastated as Rick flies away, breaking the fourth wall and declaring the imminent arrival of the Rick and Two Crows show.

Rick and Morty
Nick and Morty strike up a friendship around their shared experience of Rick. CREDIT: Adult Swim

What’s good?

‘Forgetting Sarick Mortshall’ is perfunctory stuff. Pleasant without ever really being funny. It’s certainly the most wholesome episode of a season that’s been often brilliant, often disappointing, always uneven thus far. Rick’s obsession with crows is amusing (and if you think the Rick and Two Crows show is something you’d like to see, you’re not alone – wait until the next episode). And yet as a mediation on the cruelty of toxic relationships – and the mayhem of rebounds – it’s potent enough. There’s plenty of nuance here. Even when Morty (and Rick) accept the abusive nature of their relationship, Morty still wants more. To paraphrase Selena Gomez, the heart wants what it wants, no matter if it’s been smashed to bits. And yet, for all it’s pop culture satire and timey-wimey interdimensional nerdery, Rick and Morty is a show which for five seasons now has hung upon the premise of a very clever man being very cruel to his clueless grandson. If Rick ever was kind to Morty – well, could the show find another beat?

Nice to see you again!

We hear Summer in an amusing post-credits scene. There’s a reference to next-door-neighbour Gene and poor old scientist Kyle on the ‘Wheel Of Better Things Than Morty’. Also on the board is Jerry (next to the words “spin again”). We even see the Smith patriarch in the flesh, briefly – Morty accidentally turns him into a sentient puddle. Poor Jerry (not really, Jerry is a nobhead).

Pop culture parodies

The title of the episode is, of course, a reference to the 2008 romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. There’s a nod to Disney’s Moana early on too. Other nuggets include a planet that looks suspiciously like Adventure Time’s Candy Kingdom; and callbacks to Terminator 2; Jackie Chan’s brilliant 1996 outing First Strike; The Dark Crystal; 1985 comedy horror Re-Animator; Raiders of the Lost Ark; Edgar Allen Poe; Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds; and the first X-Men movie. Oh, and – hands being lopped off, dealings with reptilian aliens in cantinas – would it be an episode of Rick and Morty if it didn’t have a whiff of Star Wars to it, right?

And if you thought that was a lot, wait until episode 10…

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